New Delhi: Intensifying his ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ (I too am watchman)campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 31 will interact with people, who have pledged their support to the campaign, from 500 places across the country. Speaking at a press conference here, senior BJP leader and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the campaign has become a “people’s movement” as the ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ hashtag has been tweeted 20 lakh times and had 1680 crore impressions.Replying to a question if the campaign was a counter to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s ‘chowkidar chor hai’ (watchman is the thief) barb, he rejected the suggestion and asserted that Modi in his campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls had projected himself as the “first servant” and ‘chowkidaar’ of the country. On Saturday, Modi had urged his supporters to take the ‘main bhai chowkidar’ (I too am watchman) pledge, saying he is not alone in the fight against graft and social evils. Following his appeal all BJP leaders, including party chief Amit Shah and Union ministers, prefixed the word ‘chowkidar’ to their names in their Twitter profile.
New Delhi: The Samajwadi Party Monday announced its support for five BSP and two AAP candidates in Delhi. The party itself is not contesting Lok Sabha elections in Delhi, which has seven seats. SP general secretary R S Yadav said here that the central leadership has decided that the party will extend support to BSP candidates contesting on East, North East, West, South and Chandni Chowk seats. It will also support Aam Admi Party candidates on New Delhi and North West seats. The BSP has not fielded candidates from New Delhi and North West Delhi seats. The SP and BSP have an alliance in Uttar Pradesh. Delhi will vote in the sixth phase of Lok Sabha polls on May 12.
Chandigarh: Lt Gen (retd) D S Hooda, the main architect of the 2016 surgical strikes on terror launch pads in PoK, on Thursday said it is “worrisome” that the military is increasingly being drawn into the political discourse and used to win political arguments.The Indian Army’s former Northern Command chief also said the talk around politicisation of the military “is sort of exaggerated”. ” …the military (is) being increasingly drawn into the political discourse, it’s being used to win political arguments, it’s being used as something which generates success in the elections. And that frankly is worrisome,” Hooda said at an event — “Dialogue on National Security”, here. “For example, you saw the recent debate over ‘my cross border strikes versus your surgical strikes’. What ultimately happened, a document was pulled out in reply to a RTI reply… to say that look this is what the Army headquarters is saying, that’s where, I think, the worry is when too much political debate starts over military,” he said. “Then you could see military being increasingly drawn in and ultimately in the long run, everybody understands it that it is going to impact your impartiality, it is going to impact your apolitical character,” he added. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghResponding to an RTI application filed by PTI, the Directorate General of Military Operations (DGMOs) said last year that the Army did not have any records of any “surgical strike” conducted before September 29, 2016 — the day when the raid was carried out in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. “So, I think, if all political parties can just leave the military out of the political discourse, that would be the best. Whether it is going to happen, I don’t know because people have also tasted success using name of the military for electoral victory,” Hooda said. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadReplying to a question about “politicisation of the armed forces”, Hooda said, “There is a lot of talk around politicisation of the Army, politicisation of the military, to me, some of it is sort of exaggerated. What exactly does politicisation mean? It means that men and women in uniform are taking a partisan political viewpoint and I don’t see that to such an extent that you should start getting worried.” Lt Gen (retd) Praveen Bakshi, who was also present at the event, said politicisation of the armed forces was his “biggest fear”. “Politicisation of the armed forces is when the government in power can make the armed forces do its bidding, not in the national interest but for personal interest, that could be politicisation,” said Bakshi.
Kolkata: Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s three roadshows on Kolkata’s streets on the last day of campaign for the final phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, just hours before the Election Commission’s campaign ban kicks in at 10 pm, witnessed tremendous response from her party workers and the common people alike.Hundreds lined up on both the sides of the streets as the first roadshow hit Diamond Harbour (DH) Road on a hot Thursday afternoon after it kick-started from Thakurpukur 3A bus stand. People tried to get a closer look at the charismatic leader giving her security personnel and police a tough time. Roadshows were conducted in favour of Mala Roy and Mimi Chakraborty contesting with Trinamool Congress’ tickets from South Kolkata and Jadavpur respectively. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe rally grew bigger in size as it marched down DH Road with the joining of thousands of Trinamool Congress supporters. People started congregating as the news of Banerjee taking part in roadshows reached the local residents of Thakurpukur, Behala, Taratala areas and to those living on either side of DH Road. Braving the heat, the roadshow witnessed a sea of people while passing through Behala. Many were found queuing up on both sides of the road while some of whom tried to capture the moment on their mobile cameras. People waved at Banerjee when she passed Behala Chowrasta area and shouted slogans in her support. Banerjee did not disappoint them and reciprocated by waving back at them. People gathered with TMC’s festoons and flags across the entire stretch. The first roadshow concluded at Taratala. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayThe second rally began at Sukanta Setu in the evening and ended at Gariahat. It went past all the important locations of South Kolkata. In some areas, women were found blowing conch shells to hail Banerjee who has emerged as the key challenger to Modi and the saffron party and will play a major role in forming the next government at the Centre. As the roadshows touched down the streets, TMC activists and leaders shouted political slogans to oust the Narendra Modi government from the Centre. The slogans resonated in the air as the roadshows crossed various lanes and bylanes of the city. People who came for shopping in Gariahat witnessed the mammoth rally. The third roadshow kicked off at Ballygunj Phari and ended at Harish Chatterjee Street, near her residence, later in the evening. Support for Mamata remains unwavering with the masses chanting anti-BJP slogans as she made her was along the areas for her rallies. Concerns over national issues remain foremost on the voters’ minds, who gathered in hundreds for the final chapter of the campaign before the state goes to polls in the final phase of the Lok Sabha elections on May 19.
The world is also eagerly waiting for the outcome of 2019 Lok Sabha elections in India. International media is abuzz with the assessment of the political situation that will emerge after elections in India and its impact worldwide. Global eyes are focused on the question whether Narendra Modi will return as the prime minister or not? None of the world press or psephology experts or think tanks seem assured for Modi getting a clear majority for his Bhartiya Janata Party to form the government this time. Major American news publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, Newsweek and Time magazine have expressed serious apprehensions about Modi’s return in the editorial comments, articles and news reports published during the past one-and-a-half month. TV Channels CNN, CBS, Fox and ABC have aired programmes discussing the possibility of a change in government in India after these elections and its impact on Indo-American relations. Time magazine has recently published a controversial article and named Modi as India’s ‘Divider-in-chief’. It said that ‘world’s largest democracy is more divided than ever’ and questioned whether India can endure five more years of Modi government? The New York Times has published numerous opinion pieces discussing ‘can India’s prime minister maintain the power he has grasped?’ The Economist sees the current contest as a ‘struggle for India’s soul’. A perceptive observer pointed out that under Modi, India’s ruling party poses a threat to democracy. The adjectives and verbs used for the leader: despicable, dangerous, brutal, disaster, alienating, bullying, controlling, hounding, impetuous, wayward, excessive, and flamethrower. In an article published by The Washington Post, there are strong mentions of the failure of Modi’s promise to transform India. ‘In the world’s biggest election, India’s Narendra Modi pushes fear over hope’, says the article and continues hammering Modi by telling the readers that ‘five years later, those lofty expectations have not been met. The economy is not creating enough jobs, while farmers are struggling with debt and rising costs.’ Financial Times, Britain’s leading business daily, in its coverage of India, is extensive. It has published an article with the title ‘Narendra Modi cannot take the backing of Indian business for granted’. The article underlines that ‘one of the most vital challenges facing Modi government is the dire state of the country’s state-owned banks, which account for two-thirds of national banking assets and have been hamstrung for several years by a mass of non-performing corporate loans.’ An article published by Le Monde in France says, ‘Fundamentally, the real issue at stake in this election is the Constitution in India of a left-wing coalition, both egalitarian and multi-cultural, the only coalition capable of beating the pro-business and anti-Muslim nationalism of BJP.’ While discussing Indian election scenario in detail the article strongly mentions, ‘Modi is massively funded by big Indian businesses.’ Newspaper La’ Figaro also did not trail behind in giving space to raising serious doubts against Modi rebounding in 2019 elections. Channels such as TV 5 Monde have also aired programmes expressing doubts over Modi’s return after elections. Similar doubts have been raised prominently in various news reports in British newspapers Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Times, and The Telegraph. The discussions on major TV channels like BBC, ITV Network, and Channel Four also depict an uncertain picture of the outcome of India elections. A lookup of Australia’s channels – ABC, SBS, Seven West Media and newspapers such as Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and Herald Sun also suggest that international media has been unsure of Modi’s come back as prime minister throughout the electioneering in India. Canada’s Toronto Sun and The Globe and Mail newspapers were full of news stories that depicted a totally confused polling trend. Community television and radio channels of Canada have also been strongly supporting a similar scenario. Ebullience in the Middle East and the Arab world over Indian elections had been phenomenal. Channels like Geo TV, Orbit Channel, Dubai TV, Bahrain TV, Al Jazeera, and Al Arabia and publications such as Gulf Tribune, Gulf News and Khaleej Times played exuberantly in discussing poll prospects for Modi and his BJP. Indian prime minister’s ‘radar remark’ had a very strong negative impact on the image of India’s leadership quality validating question about the future of our country in case BJP returns to power. Khaleej Times wrote, ‘It’s a pity that the Indian Air Force had to learn from Modi that it takes only a few cumulus clouds to dodge air radars.’ Participants in panel discussions on Star News of Japan and Channel 5 of Singapore observed that BJP will not be in a position to cross 200-mark in Indian Parliament after the elections. When RSS ideologue and BJP’s national general secretary Ram Madhav expressed his apprehensions on getting a clear majority by his party in an interview, his sentiments got vide coverage in international media. The scholars associated with various think tanks in different country quoted Madhav in support of their argument that it is not easy for Modi this time to reappear in a similar position that he enjoyed in 2014. In African countries too, the trepidation about Modi’s unscathed position was no less. TV and print media in the whole of Africa was blowing with debate on BJP’s chances of return. Channels – RTB, TV Africa, Multi TV, RTG, EM TV, Tele Sahel, and Sky NEWS transmitted a number of shows focusing on India’s elections and in most of them, the assumption of the uncertainty of the outcome was strongly sunny. Newspapers Asianet Africa, Sunday Times and Die Son especially lend coverage to elections in India with headlines that suggest that it’s not a cakewalk for Modi this time. Media in China, though did not communicate that it is absolutely sure of the arrival of the current government in India again, always indicated its inclination for ‘a more stable coalition in India’. China Central Television, Beijing Television and CCTV-13 built up an argument that even if BJP does not get a clear majority, it will enjoy the position of the single largest party after the elections and would be in a situation to form more well-built political alliance than the current opposition allies. People’s Daily, Global Times, China Daily and Shanghai Morning Post have been ferrying the similar ruckus. Hong Kong’s TVB channel showed discussions on similar lines and HK newspapers such as South China Morning Post, Headline Daily, and Oriental Daily News also gave shape to this idea. In an article published by Global Times of China, it indicated that five years of Modi did not yield required fruits by saying, ‘The country needs an efficient government, which is capable of addressing public issues, such as increasing employment.’ It also raised a question, ‘Even if it is said that India’s election is the best demonstration of democracy, will it produce a government which can realise its goal? Or is it just a show?’ To see the response to this inquest, wait only for three more days. (The author is Editor & CEO of News Views India and a national office bearer of the Congress party. Views expressed are strictly personal)
TUNIS – Tunisia, already destabilised by a political crisis, tightened security on Thursday after two failed suicide bombings that dealt a blow to the country’s vital tourism industry.Only the suicide bomber was killed Wednesday in one attack on a beachside hotel in Sousse, and the security forces thwarted another attempted suicide attack soon thereafter in neighbouring Monastir.On Thursday police checks were considerably strengthened in and around Sousse, while tourists in the nearby resort of El Kantaoui said they were concerned but resolved to enjoy the rest of their vacations. “Yesterday I was scared, frankly. But I think such incidents are mostly a threat to Tunisia. The weather here still attracts us, and I’m determined to finish my holiday,” said a French tourist who identified herself as Aurelie.Michele, another French holidaymaker lying on the beach, was also determined to see out her holiday. “I don’t want to think too much and ruin my vacation,” she said.In the capital Tunis, police beefed up their presence on Habib Bourguiba Avenue and used barbed wire to cut off vehicle access to the interior ministry.Security was also stepped up at Zarzis, a tourist spot near Djerba island and the border with Libya, which is considered a transit point for arms smugglers.An AFP journalist said tanks were deployed around hotels, and police and army patrols searched vehicles on the road to Libya.Wednesday’s attacks have fuelled fears about the future of the country’s tourism sector, still struggling from the 2011 revolution that resulted in a 30-percent drop in revenues.One newspaper said the attacks meant “terrorism is now targeting tourism.”“The target now is the beating heart of the Tunisian economy,” read the editorial in the Une le Temps daily.But Mohamed Ali Toumi, the head of a Tunisian travel agents’ federation, expressed optimism ahead of the winter high season for travel to desert areas on the borders with Algeria and Libya.“People are a little reluctant to book stays, this is true, but we believe it will be short-lived… It will be difficult for the next few days, then we will return to normal, God willing,” he said. ‘Attacks won’t derail transition’The presidency insisted the attacks, which have yet to be claimed, would not “derail” the democratic transition following the 2011 revolution, which kicked off the Arab Spring.A national dialogue is under way between the ruling Islamist party Ennahda and the opposition to end a months-long political crisis sparked by the July assassination of opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi by suspected jihadists.As part of a roadmap agreed by political leaders to break the stalemate, Ennahda is to hand over power to an interim government made up of independents.Ennahda’s veteran leader Rached Ghannouchi, who has been criticised in the past for encouraging dialogue with hardline Salafists, denounced “those who tried to target tourists,” calling them “criminals who want to destroy Tunisia, its economy and its democratic transition.”In Wednesday’s first attack, the suicide bomber “blew himself up” near the four-star Riadh Palms hotel in Sousse, the interior ministry said.According to witnesses, he had tried to enter the hotel but fled to the beach when guards spotted him.Within half an hour, security forces foiled another suicide attack by an 18-year-old man on the tomb of former president Habib Bourguiba, in Monastir, 20 kilometres (12 miles) away along the coast.The ministry said special forces arrested five members of Ansar al-Sharia, an Al-Qaeda-linked Salafist movement, over the attacks.Since the 2011 revolution that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has been rocked by violence blamed on radical Islamists suppressed under the former dictator, including the killings this year of Brahmi and another opposition MP.Wednesday’s failed suicide bombings are the first in Tunisia since 2002, when an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda killed 21 people at the ancient Ghriba synagogue on Djerba.Ennahda, which swept Tunisia’s first post-revolutionary elections in October 2011, has been sharply criticised by the opposition for failing to combat a rise in jihadist militancy.The government has linked Tunisia’s armed jihadists to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and says it lacks the resources to combat them.
Libreville – King Mohammed VI and Gabonese president Ali Bongo Ondimba, chaired, Thursday at the Presidential Palace in Libreville, the signing ceremony of the strategic partnership between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Gabonese Republic in the field of fertilizer.This strategic partnership aims to increase food security on the continent, and is part of South-South cooperation.On a continent where nearly 80 per cent of arable land is not exploited, this unprecedented project aims to produce phosphate and ammonia fertilizer that is adapted to the specificities of the different ecosystems that make up African soil, and enhance agricultural potential for sustainable human development. Total production capacity will be around 2 million tons of fertilizer per year by 2018, which will be directed primarily towards African countries.The potential for exploitation could reach 8 million tons per year, due to the strong demand for adequate and accessible fertilizer.On this occasion, Mostapha Terrab, CEO of The Office Cherifien de Phosphate (OCP) gave a presentation on this partnership which integrates the natural resources of both countries (phosphate and gas).This initiative seeks to build fertilizer plants:In Gabon: 1 Ammonia Production unit (from Gabonese gas), the first unit of its kind in the region, and which supplies neighboring markets, and 1 fertilizer production unit.In Morocco: two production units of Phosphoric Acid from Moroccan phosphate, and 1 fertilizer production unit.The initiative will help create more direct and indirect 5000 jobs in Gabon and Morocco.An Agreement protocol of 9 months, signed between Morocco and Gabon parties, will launch the required studies to start the project.The partnership agreement was signed by, on the Moroccan side, by Moulay Hafid Alamy, Minister of Industry, Trade, Investment and Digital Economy, Abdelkader Aamara, Minister of Energy, Mines, Water and the Environment, and Mostafa Terrab CEO of OCP, and on the Gabonese side, by Régis Immongault Tatagani, Minister of Mines, Industry and Tourism, Etienne Dieudonné Ngoubou, Minister of Petroleum and Hydrocarbons, and Fabrice Nze-Bekale, CEO of Equatorial Mining Company.
Washington – The United States “welcomes” the Moroccan government’s initiative to reform the Military Code of Justice and to exempt civilians from trial by military tribunals, a U.S. State Department official told Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), calling the decision as “an important step forward in strengthening the protection of human rights in Morocco.” “In the Joint Statement issued on the occasion of the November 22 visit of King Mohammed VI to Washington DC, President Barack Obama welcomed the Sovereign’s commitment to end the practice of military trials of civilians,” the official recalled.“We are pleased to see this commitment made concrete in the form of this draft law. We understand it will now move to Parliament for that body’s approval.” “We urge the Parliament to act quickly to pass the law so that its impact is not delayed,” he said. The US official also noted that the United States also welcomes “the growing role of the National Council on Human rights as a credible and proactive defender of human rights, and are encouraged by the Council of Government’s decision to strengthen the CNDH by ensuring that government agencies address complaints directed to it.”He said “both of these measures are important steps forward in strengthening the protection of human rights in Morocco and in realizing the promise of the 2011 Constitution.”
Doha – Morocco won two awards at the fifth Intel Science Competition Arab World 2014 (ISC AW) in Doha, an annual pan-Arab science, technology, engineering and math competition for students in grades 9 to 12.Two 17-year old Moroccan students Ahmed Amrani and Dounia Jaoui won the “modern technologies award” for their project Smart Cane, a white cane designed to facilitate movement to visually impaired people.For their part, Houda Beldi and Zaineb Anaamaoui,17, won the “administration and the social sciences award” for their project “The Inbox,” a software solution that enhances e-mail security. The Grand Prix of the Intel Science Competition went to a group of Lebanese student who presented a collective project that helps preserve the coolness of vehicles parked under hot sun by taking advantage of solar energy.
Miami – Europe’s Migrant crisis in Macedonia results in frightened and injured refugees held back by police.Thousands of migrants were dispersed by the use of force by the Macedonian riot police when trying to cross the Greek-Macedonian border. Police threw stun grenades and tear gas into the crowd leaving both children and adults injured and terrified.The British Daily Mail reports in detail the events that left at least 8 refugees injured and thousands in despair. A youngster was found bleeding from “shrapnel” damages after being hit by a stun grenade as the crowd screamed “help us”. The outrage occurred near the border train station of Idomeni, northern Greece. Photographs demonstrate the pain and suffering of these migrants whose look on their faces is enough to tell the story. Children are seen crying and holding on to each other as the police use shields to separate the masses. Officers with batons and heavy force “crush” refugees into the ground regardless of gender or age.As the police applied force with their riot shields, at least 10 migrants were reported fainted. Some fell unconscious and were bleeding. Those who were still standing are pictured assisting the injured, including women and children who were separated from their parents.Europe’s migrant crisis has overburdened several countries including Greece, Italy, Germany, France and Britain. Migrants from Middle East and Africa have crossed borders entering Europe. These refugees undergo harsh conditions in refugee camps waiting for days at the borders with little to no facilities. The same source quotes Jad, a 25-year old Syrian in the fields of Edomeni, “We are very angry because the police had told us they would let us through today. We are not animals”.Migrants were unable to cross the border on foot, not even along the railroad tracks since police deterred them by throwing coils of razor wire all over the tracks.Even though Macedonia has declared state of emergency, human rights organizations are against their violent measures. Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director, Gauri van Gulik expressed, “Macedonian authorities are responding as if they were dealing with rioters rather than refugees who have fled conflict and persecution. Every country has the power to patrol its own borders, but this kind of para-military response is an unacceptable push-back in violation of international law”.On the other hand, Macedonian police spokesman Ivo Kotevski reiterated, “Police and the army will control a 30-mile stretch of the border to stop a massive influx of migrants coming from Greece”.Macedonia’s Minister of the Interior said in a previous statement that a limited number of ‘vulnerable’ migrants would be allowed to cross the border. Police allegedly issued around 181 transit documents to migrants from Syria, Bangladesh and Pakistan after declaring the state of emergency.Reportedly, Bulgaria has taken steps to control its borders as well to impede the flow of migrants. The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense issued a statement proposing “concrete measures to secure the state border together with the Interior Ministry”.Before Macedonian police took harsher measures, the country had been witnessing illegal crossings of around 2,000 refugees daily. Most of these refugees are desperately entering Europe escaping conflict and persecution in Iraq, Syria and Libya.The same source reports the Greek Coast Guard has picked up 620 refugees in 15 search-and-rescue operations in the last 24 hours, near several Greek islands. The number of migrants crossing Macedonia has reached 39,000 just in the last month, according to authorities.Migrants’ stories are those of oppressed victims in search of freedom in European lands. A Syrian refugee with her husband and a baby shares, “We want to go to Germany to find a new life because everything has been destroyed in Syria”.Refugees wait for days to board limited-space trains to be transported into Germany, Hungary and other European nations. Pictures depict migrants sleeping on the ground, others praying for freedom and hope after arriving aboard inflatable boats to the refugee camps.Life for these migrants is very challenging even in the countries where they are given asylum. Germany has reported several attacks of hostility towards these refugees who are given space in overpopulated shelters accounting well over 800,000 individuals.Conditions are worsening as locals and those against the refugee movement assault these shelters in disagreement. Those who venture into northern territories fear the town of Calais as they say “conditions are so appalling they would rather die trying to escape it and sneak into Britain by jumping onto trucks and Eurotunnel trains”.The search for peace and freedom is filled with many setbacks and many lose their lives dreaming of a better future.
Rabat – King Mohammed VI sent a message of congratulations to Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, on the triumph of the Portuguese football team in the 2016 European Championship of Nations over the French team (1-0).The Portuguese football team ended brilliantly the 2016 edition of the European Championship of Nations by wining the final of this competition against the French team. On this occasion, “I am glad to extend to you and to the friendly Portuguese people my heartfelt congratulations,” said the King in the message.The sovereign also extended his sincere congratulations to the players and the technical staff of the Portuguese team who, throughout this championship, gave the best of themselves and accomplish such huge achievement.
Rabat – King Mohammed VI laid the foundation stone of a psycho-social rehabilitation center at the Ibn Rochd University Hospital in Casablanca on Saturday. The center is a solidarity-based project illustrating the special interest of the Sovereign in promoting the health sector in general and mental health in particular.The MAD 14 million project, initiated by the Mohammed V Foundation for Solidarity, reinforces the momentum of cohesion and mutual assistance generated by the National Solidarity Campaign, which runs from March 15-25.It falls under the umbrella of the action plan of the Foundation and aims to support the national health sector. It will accomplish this by strengthening the existing medical supply and improving access to health care for the poorest population. It will also integrate a complementary social approach into the mechanisms of the patients and beneficiaries involved. The future center is an integral part of the Casablanca-Settat regional medico-social program (2016-2020), supported by the Mohammed V Foundation for Solidarity. Its purpose will be to take care of patients with serious and chronic psychological and mental illnesses, with a view to reducing the deleterious effects of these conditions and then promote their social and professional reintegration.It will allow treated patients, estimated at more than 1,300 a year, to break with the isolation caused by mental pathology, by promoting the development of their relational abilities, the acquisition of some professional skills and an improved feeling of well-being.Built on a covered area of 1,820 m2, the psycho-social rehabilitation center will be housed within the Ibn Rochd University Psychiatric Centre and will include a therapeutic center, a socio-educational center, an administrative center and a reception area.
ROME — Police say Italy’s three big organized crime syndicates are increasingly infiltrating Rome’s economy, sometimes collaborating for efficiency.The semi-annual report of the national anti-Mafia investigative police agency DIA offers a grim analysis of how the Sicilian Mafia, Naples-area Camorra and Calabria-rooted ‘ndrangheta invest illegal revenues heavily in Rome hotels, restaurants and stores, often aided by complicit lawyers and accountants.DIA analysts say mobsters from the three crime syndicates based in southern Italy blend into Rome’s populous neighbourhoods. They say the mobsters often set up companies run by professionals to infiltrate public contract bidding. They also warn of the mobsters’ ability to corrupt local officials.Separately, authorities said Wednesday they suspect Rome authorities and local mobsters colluded to demand payoffs from street vendors for permission to operate near major tourist attractions.The Associated Press
MEXICO CITY — The head of Mexico’s financial intelligence unit says that a former executive at the state-owned oil company who was sanctioned this week by the comptroller’s office is Pemex’s former director Emilio Lozoya.Santiago Nieto investigates financial crimes at Mexico’s finance ministry and he congratulated the comptroller via Twitter late Wednesday for banning Lozoya from holding public positions for 10 years. The comptroller hadn’t identified the executive.Nieto says the ban is fundamental in the fight against corruption and impunity.Former executives of Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht have given evidence to prosecutors in that country that implicates Lozoya in the company’s bribery scandal. Lozoya has denied receiving bribes.Earlier this month, Mexico’s attorney general said there was new evidence in the case in Mexico and charges would come within two months.The Associated Press
“We can ensure that people move in a way that is safe and legal, and which protects their rights,” Mr. Ban said in his address to the inaugural Global Forum on Migration and Development in Brussels, Belgium. “We can work to strengthen the positive impact of migration on the development of migrants’ home countries. We can encourage destination countries to promote the success of migrants, both in their original and their adopted homes.”Mr. Ban noted that the emergence of migration – a “sensitive” issue – as a top priority was a slow process, culminating in the launch of the Forum.“As we have grasped migration’s powerful potential for good, old stereotypes have crumbled, and new opportunities have captured our imaginations,” he said, observing that migrants are propelled by the “age-old pursuit of a better life, as well as by increasingly understood phenomena such as climate change.”Therefore, he said, “we accept that we must take effective action without delay.”Although migrants have been assisting their families and communities for decades, it is only recently that there has been a deepened understanding of how effective policies can augment the positive boon on development posed by migration.Mr. Ban stressed that migrants have much to offer – in the economic, social and cultural realms – to developed countries.“Their cultures, values and traditions not only enrich our societies, but enable us to adapt successfully to a world that is growing fast,” he said, citing how migrants have founded prominent companies such as eBay, Mittal, Google and Intel, as well as becoming innovators in research.He pointed out that lesser-skilled migrants also have much to contribute, performing “many of the most essential tasks that undergird our well-being.”Underscoring his commitment to the Forum’s efforts, Mr. Ban pledged the UN’s support through his Special Representative for Migration and Development, Peter Sutherland, who was reappointed to his post today.Also speaking at the Forum was Director Carmen Moreno of the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW), who emphasized the important role women play with regard to remittances.Noting that half of all remittance senders and the greater part of remittance recipients are women, she said that “unless the entire migration process is examined from a gender perspective, projects that aim to maximize the pros and reduce the cons of remittances are doomed to fail.”Over 120 Governments, 200 civil society representatives, and numerous international organizations and UN institutions are expected to attend the Forum, which concludes tomorrow.While in Brussels, Mr. Ban also met today with Javier Solana, the European Union High Representative, and highlighted the “very friendly and cooperative relationship” between their respective offices.Following their discussions, Mr. Ban told reporters that he discussed the issue of Kosovo at length with Mr. Solana.“Because of the lack of progress in taking action on the recommendation of my Special Envoy for the future status of Kosovo, my position is that any further delay or prolongation of this issue will not be beneficial, not only for the Balkan States but also for the unity of the European Union.”He asked the parties involved to “not take any premature unilateral actions which may further complicate this already complicated issue.” 10 July 2007United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged immediate and effective action to aid the plight of the world’s 200 million migrants, characterizing the phenomenon of migration as “one of the great global challenges of our century.”
The United Nations refugee agency has succeeded in dispatching a truck convoy from Liberia to Mauritania in a 25-day journey aimed at redeploying resources as part of a broader cost-saving effort that will benefit thousands of people.“This was an extraordinary achievement. The redeployment was done under extreme conditions and it succeeded thanks to the perseverance of the convoy members,” said Ursula Aboubacar, Deputy Director of UNHCR’s Middle East and North Africa Bureau.The 20 trucks from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which arrived in southern Mauritania on Monday, will be used to support the voluntary repatriation and reintegration of Mauritanian refugees from Senegal and Mali.The vehicles driven by staff from UNHCR’s partner GTZ, the German aid agency, carried 2,000 buckets, 1,600 kitchen sets, 4,500 plates, 9,600 bars of soaps, 3,125 blankets, 3,920 jerry cans, 20 bales of fabric, 3,600 items of women’s clothing and numerous mosquito nets.The convoy was sent to Mauritania as part of UNHCR efforts to maximize the use of existing resources and minimize the cost of the new operation. The UN agency is looking at ways to redeploy as many assets as possible from other programmes currently phasing down in West Africa. It wound up the Liberia assisted repatriation programme at the end of June this year after helping more than 100,000 refugees go back home since late 2005.The resources from Liberia will be badly needed by UNHCR, which said it is facing funding shortages for the Mauritania operation. The agency launched a $7 million appeal at the end of August to fund the voluntary repatriation of 24,000 Mauritanian refugees, mainly from Senegal and Mali.“This return will help resolve one of the most protracted refugee situations in Africa and represents the only durable solution in the Middle East and North Africa region at present. Some of the Mauritanian refugees have spent more than two decades in exile,” UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis told journalists in Geneva on Tuesday.“The 17-month operation, which faces some major logistical challenges, is scheduled to start this month,” she said, while adding that “with only $500,000 received so far, we fear serious delays.”More than 60,000 Mauritanians fled to Senegal and Mali in April 1989 when a long-standing border dispute between the two countries escalated into ethnic violence. 17 October 2007The United Nations refugee agency has succeeded in dispatching a truck convoy from Liberia to Mauritania in a 25-day journey aimed at redeploying resources as part of a broader cost-saving effort that will benefit thousands of people.
22 February 2008The sorry state of much of Africa’s transport and communication networks is holding the continent back and preventing its countries from competing on the global market, the United Nations advocate for the world’s poorest States has told the World Bank. In an address a meeting at the Bank’s headquarters in Washington, the UN Special Adviser on Africa, Cheick Sidi Diarra said road transport – which accounts for 90 per cent of inter-urban transport in Africa – was particularly poor.Less than a third of Africa’s estimated two million kilometres of roads are paved, Mr. Diarra noted, and transport costs comprise as much as 77 per cent of the value of African exports.“There is an urgent need for supporting African countries to develop affordable transport systems that would promote trade expansion, economic growth and competitiveness,” he said, especially in landlocked countries.Mr. Diarra, who also serves as the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said cumbersome border crossing procedures only further exacerbated the problems for landlocked nations.“Because of such realities, landlocked developing countries find themselves among the poorest developing countries today, beset with anaemic growth rates and deteriorating social conditions. The widening development gap between landlocked developing countries, especially those in Africa and the rest of the developing world, is a clear and unmistakable trend,” he added.He called for donor-supported public funding to boost or upgrade Africa’s stocks of roads, buildings and other forms of infrastructure so that it can better compete and work towards the globally agreed set of socio-economic targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
14 March 2008The General Assembly today adopted a resolution on the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in which it called for the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces “from all the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan.” The General Assembly today adopted a resolution on the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in which it called for the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces “from all the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan.” With 39 votes in favour, seven against and 100 abstentions, the Assembly adopted a text that also called for “continued respect and support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders.” The resolution reaffirmed “the inalienable right of the population expelled from the occupied territories” of Azerbaijan to return to their homes, and to achieve that end it underlined the need for the comprehensive rehabilitation of all conflict-affected territories. No State should recognize as lawful the current situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, nor provide aid or assistance to maintain that situation, according to the text, which also called for “normal, secure and equal conditions of life for Armenian and Azerbaijani communities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region” so that “an effective democratic system of self-governance” can be built up. In addition, the resolution voices support for international mediation efforts to the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, particularly the work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group Co-Chairmen.
Successive hurricanes and tropical storms struck the Caribbean island nation – the poorest in the Western Hemisphere – in late August and early September, destroying large portions of its agriculture and infrastructure, and almost entirely wiping out the harvest for the current season. This only compounded the suffering of those who were already impacted by the rise in food prices. “Hunger is no stranger to Haitians who have been struck by more than their fair share of crises,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “Now is the time for concerted global action to get food to the hungry, and to support President [René] Préval’s goal of longer-term solutions to help the country, and its people, feed themselves.” Ms. Sheeran flew directly to the town of Gonaïves on her arrival in the country today, to speak with people who have been devastated by the storms, and witness first-hand WFP’s emergency and recovery response. On Saturday, she will meet the Haitian Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis and other government officials in the capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as international donors, partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN representatives, to discuss the best way forward. Accompanying the WFP chief on her visit is David Novak, head of restaurant company Yum! Brands, which yesterday committed $80 million to help the agency provide over 200 million meals to hungry schoolchildren in poor countries, including Haiti.WFP has delivered more than 2,200 metric tons of food since the start of its emergency operation – enough to feed almost 500,000 people. More than 300,000 of them are in Gonaïves, the city worst hit by flooding. It has appealed for $54 million to support its work in Haiti, but has so far received only $1 million. 26 September 2008The head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today began a two-day visit to assess the devastation across hurricane-ravaged Haiti, which was grappling with chronic food security even before the recent series of storms.
There has been a notable rise in violations against civilians and attacks on humanitarian workers in North Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), leading to new displacement, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today. Some people fled the fighting, while others moved from villages to the forest and back again, OCHA’s Elizabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva. In addition, seven security incidents against humanitarian actors had been documented between 14 and 24 February, compared to 15 incidents since the beginning of the year. The rise in such incidents might lead humanitarian organizations working in the province – which has been the scene of clashes between Government forces and rebels that have uprooted hundreds of thousands of people – to reduce or limit their work, leading to “disastrous” consequences for the population, Ms. Byrs said.She said that the humanitarian community is appealing to all the parties in the territory to respect and protect the civilian population as well as aid workers and their equipment. OCHA added that attacks against individuals, as well as entire villages and health centres, by the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) are continuing in Haut Uélé province. DRC, Uganda and Southern Sudan have joined forces in an offensive against the group, whose attacks have left hundreds dead and uprooted roughly 150,000 people. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it is preparing an emergency operation targeting those driven from their homes or who lost their crops and possessions as a result of LRA attacks. Meanwhile, aid agencies say they need military protection and are working to find ways to get to remote populations that can only be accessed by helicopter. Despite these constraints, OCHA reported that aid is reaching some people. WFP, for example, was able to distribute food to more than 32,000 displaced people last week. OCHA also noted that work is ongoing to improve the airstrip in the north-eastern city of Doruma to facilitate arrivals of humanitarian air flights.In a related development, Hilde Johnson, Deputy Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is currently in eastern DRC, where she called today for the release of all children currently associated with armed groups in the area. 27 February 2009There has been a notable rise in violations against civilians and attacks on humanitarian workers in North Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), leading to new displacement, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today.